A federal report recently showed that as many as 7,000 children from Central America have been deported without a court hearing or an immigration attorney. An immigration advocacy group claims that the high number of deportations stems from issues with the immigration courts. Many of the deportation orders are issued when children fail to appear in court, even when the court system sends their notices late or to the wrong address. Most of the children are deported without even speaking with an immigration attorney to inform them of their rights.
Immigration Attorneys See Rising Numbers
The report showed that more than 62,000 minor children had deportation cases filed against them since October 2013. Most of these children traveled from Honduras or El Salvador without any adult supervision and claimed to be escaping widespread gang violence in their native countries. When these children fail to show up for their immigration hearing, the court will issue an immediate order of deportation, as it has done more than 7,000 times since October 2013.
Immigration Attorneys Cite Court Issues
immigration attorneys and advocates for undocumented immigrants cite numerous problems with the immigration court system for the rising number of deportations. The courts would issue summons for courts near the site where the children were detained, often hundreds of miles away from where the children were living at the time. Some immigration attorneys cite cases in which the notices arrived at the wrong address, on the wrong date, or did not arrive at all. Wendy Young, president of the advocacy group Kids in Need of Defense, told reporters that the issues have “now become a due process crisis.”
Immigration Attorneys and Executive Orders
One reason for the rise in cases cited by immigration attorneys stems from an executive order issued by President Barack Obama last year. The president ordered the courts to speed up the deportation process for undocumented immigrants under 21 years of age. The intention behind the order was to discourage more young people from attempting the dangerous trip north. However, the rush of “fast-track” cases has overwhelmed both the court system and immigration attorneys.
Report: Children Without Immigration Attorneys Likely to be Deported
The report also revealed statistics showing the benefits of children having an immigration attorney represent them in court. The report showed that 94 percent of the unaccompanied minors who were deported since July did not have an immigration attorney. Unlike in criminal cases, the government is not obligated to provide defendants in immigration cases with legal counsel.
Source: Los Angeles Times
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